CCÉ Northeast Regional Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Joyce
Joseph Michael Joyce
Inducted to its The Hall of Fame by
The Northeast Region of the North American Province – November 3, 2003
Joseph Michael Joyce (button accordion) was born December 2,1929—the 3rd eldest of 8 children– in Allston, Massachusetts to immigrant parents Michael Joseph Joyce of Shanakeela, Recess, Co. Galway, and Mary (nee Mellett) Joyce Doyle of Upper Camus, Rosmuc, Co. Galway. Joe has three sons from his first marriage-Michael (accordion, guitar & singing), Stephen and Brian. From his second marriage, to Karin A. (nee Dupee) Joyce, Joe has a daughter Catherine Mary (tin whistle & piano), for whom Brendan Tonra wrote his red Sonny Catherine. Joe often plays music with Michael and Catherine. Irish music has never been scarce in the Joyce household.
Music of his youth
Joe’s Uncle Pat Mellett played the “squeeze box,” and his mother Mary sang seanos style. Joe often sang at house parties with brother Tommy who sang and played button accordion. At 13, during a year-long recuperation from rheumatic fever, Joe received a gift from neighbor Tom Faherty: a 10 button Globe. Playing tunes like “Maggie in the Wood” and “All the Way to Galway,” Joe earned $5 at his first house party gig. He ran errands for an elderly neighbor who owned a gramophone, and played checkers as long as she liked, winding her gramophone to hear 78s of the Paddy Killoram band, the McNulty Family, Mickey & Mary Carton, Ruthie Morrissey, Jack Feeney & Connie Foley. Joe later bought 78s of the Copley, Columbia, Decca and RCA Victor labels from O’Byrne De Witt’s music store in Roxbury, and practiced his accordion to them.
Networking at the Hibernian
At age 17, Joe visited the Irish Social Club at Hibernian Hall in Dudley St., Roxbury, one evening, hearing the Derrane Brothers for the first time—Joe (accordion) and George (banjo). Joe Derrane was a year younger than Joe Joyce. The two Joes became friends, Joe Derrane often playing music at the Joyce household. Joe Joyce began attending the socials at local dance halls, mingling with the great bands of the time-Johnny Powell’s, Connie Hanafin’s, Joe O’Leary’s bands—and with musicians Paddy Killoran, Bobby Gardiner, Billy Caples and Connie Foley.
A Feis, a prize and the Shamrock Minstrels
In 1950, in Malden, the first Massachusetts feis was held, sponsored by Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston. Joe Derrane placed first in the accordion competition—and Tom Senier of Clifden, Co. Galway, and Joe Joyce tied for second. At about that time, Joe formed “The Shamrock Minstrels,” with Eddie Irwin (piano), Jimmy Kelly (RIP, banjo), Dick McNaught (drums), Joe Elwood (sax), Chris Murphy (guitar & vocals), and himself on button accordion and vocals. They played the Intercolonial Hall in Roxbury, and at halls and events in greater Boston.
Whenever asked to play, Joe will say, “I’ll be there.”
Since then, “Joe Joyce, the People’s Choice” (for whom Bill Black wrote a jig by that name) has played warm-up for the McNulty Family, and for the first Chieftain’s concert in Boston— as well as at pubs, nursing homes, feiseanna, charity events, stage productions. A member of the Irish Music Club, and a founding member of Hanafin-Cooley in Boston in 1975, Joe has competed in the New York Fleadh, and has attended 18 Fleadhanna Cheoil na hEireann in Ireland. Whenever asked to play, Joe will say, “I’ll be there.”
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This Page revised by Larry Tormey 9/2/2008.